It’s that time of year when I want to change my ringtone from Default to Deck The Halls, or, more accurately, to my favorite holiday song of all-time (sorry Santa Baby): Silver Bells. It’s the season of holiday party invites, leaving glitter on hands, and “What will I wear, what will fit?” on the minds of dysfunctional dieters. More than anything, for me it’s about capturing and creating new memories—tradition mingled with new moments. Yet with such lofty aspirations for stirring up warmth in a blowy season of delights and winter weather warnings, there’s still the nitty-gritty, pull-up-your-sleeves-and-get-to-work of it all. It’s why there’s Maker’s Mark. It’s why people have tree-trimming parties. It’s ding-a-ling, ring-a-ding exhausting.
Our tree is up. Fat. Glorious. Crooked. I’m dreading stringing white twinkle lights by myself. Even with Elf or Miracle on 34th Street, or even Baby Mama playing in the background, it would be easier with help. Help this year will be a step stool and espresso. Though I think I’m learning the best way to light a tree is to, in fact, be lit. I should bribe friends with homemade cookies and bourbon-spiked hot cocoa. If I lived in New York, it wouldn’t be hard to find takers, but here in Austin, all my friends have families of their own, with children to be tucked in, husbands to be put away, menorah’s, uncles, and trees to be lit. No amount of caroling, cookies, or copious amounts of hooch-laced creme will lure anyone into elf mode. Dulce would never think of it as work. “Trim Stephanie’s tree,” would be added to her calendar without irony, beside a smiling emoticon.
THE PREPPY HOLIDAY: A WASP TREE
I wish my tree had more of a color theme. Like if you’re going to go with white, pink, and green, a preppy tree, then go for it, full stop. I should use my print & cut personal die cutter machine and start creating alligators and blue whale ornaments. For trim, pom-poms. You know who has the best tree? Thomas Pink. I think it’s all frosted sugar cookies of boxer shorts, ties, and shirts. Not the most sentimental of trees, but oh, how very cheeky. It doesn’t really matter, of course, especially now that the sugarplums’ eyes will be aglow when they see ballerinas and glittered airplanes hanging from green branches.
LIGHTING FOR DEPTH, BUT STILL BEIN’ SHALLOW
Last year I remember researching techniques on how to add lights to a tree, and it took me hours: the research, and the actual stringing. Each branch was to be lit from the inside out, not nearly as easy as a circular motion around the entire tree. Hanging mirrored silver balls deep in, as close to the trunk as I could reach, to give the perception of depth, was a grinch and a half. A well-lit tree should look like it’s lit from the inside, like candles in a pumpkin, a bloom of light, as if it has its own pulse.
THE LURE OF "SHOULD"
As much as I love the idea of shoulds, this year it just isn’t about should. I need to remind myself that anything worth doing is worth savoring. So, if it means doing a nip here, taking a drink there, stopping to snap a photo while the food gets cold just because I enjoy photography even more than eating on time, then that’s the way it’s going down. Because when everything goes wrong is what really makes the memories, it’s those sidelines and “wrong” turns that we remember most, not the shoulds, the expected, and the well executed. Oops is the very best part of life.
A YEAR AGO: Cuts
5 YEARS AGO: Self-Love